Fredrick, Gamecocks shooting for "Big Dance"

The Gamecocks are pinning their hopes for the 2007-2008 season on a group of newcomers, led by a familiar name. Zam "Buck" Fredrick II, the son of Gamecock great Zam Fredrick, is a transfer from Georgia Tech who is being counted on to be a driving force in the backcourt for USC this season.

Fredrick does not mind all the comparisons to his father, who led the nation in scoring in 1981. However, he understandably wants people to understand that there is a difference between father and son.

"My father was a good player when he played here," he said. "I want to leave my own mark, really. I want to be known as my own guy with my own name. When you talk about us, you've got to talk about what he did, and then talk about what I did, not about us together. We're not the same person. Even though I learned everything about this game from him, I go about it my own way."

Fredrick said there is a reason he does not mind the association. Because he was born 5 years after his father left USC (in Italy, no less), Fredrick never saw his father play in garnet and black, so he has nothing to compare himself to.

"I didn't see him play," Fredrick said. "I heard good things about him; I know he led the nation in scoring. It's not really any pressure for me, because I don't have anything visual to live up to. I've seen some highlight tapes and a couple of games, and I've seen him play when I was growing up. He played against the high school players and he used to punish them. I know what type of guy he is, and knock off 15-20 years from what I've seen, and he had to be a problem [for defenders]."

Fredrick had to sit out last season after transferring, which meant he watched the disappointing season from the bench. Although watching all the losses was painful, there was something to be gained from sitting next to the coaches every game. In addition to using the down time to improve his game, Fredrick also used the time on the bench to learn the game from the coaches' perspectives.

"I learned the system: where to pick your spots, what you can and can't do," he explained. "I spent the year just working on my skills, sharpening my tools."

That knowledge will be important for Fredrick, since he is being expected to play both guard spots. During his two years at Georgia Tech, Fredrick played both positions, which has given him the college experience to do it at Carolina. Fredrick was amused that reporters kept asking him about playing both positions.

"I'm going to play the two, I'm going to see the one, I'm a combo guard," he said. "I've been taught to attack, to put pressure on the defense. That can come from the one or two spot."

The most pressing issue facing Fredrick is not how he will handle multiple positions, but how the team can turn things around after a disappointing season. Like all the players, Fredrick has no doubts the team will be playing in the NCAA tournament, and he explained why.

"It's a new team all the way," he said. "Last year we had a few injuries that held us back a little bit. This year we've got a lot of bodies; two or three people that can play the same position. Everybody's hungry to get some wins. We've got enough talent, athleticism, shooting, competitiveness... We can compete with anybody. On the inside, we don't really have a dominant big man, but we have athletic wings. We can make the tournament as long as we get our team chemistry together early.

"Around here, we won some games, we got to the NIT, but I think everybody around wants to get to the NCAA Tournament," he continued. "That's all anybody is talking about; competing in the SEC, hopefully finishing first or second, and getting into the NCAA Tournament and taking it as far as we can there. That's the approach we have, and we're doing everything we can to put ourselves in a position to do that. We just want to win. We won some games in the past, but I think everyone wants to get to the NCAA Tournament. We've talked about competing in the SEC and hopefully getting first or second."

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